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Volume 3945

    JANE: The Woman Who Loved Tarzan
Reviews ~ Photos ~ Video
Robin Maxwell

Robin Maxwell's 
'Jane: The Woman Who Loved Tarzan'
by Thea James
Science Fiction and Fantasy ~ September 21, 2012

The year is 1905, the place Cambridge University. Jane Porter, a headstrong and passionate young woman, is the first female student to be admitted to the university’s sole anatomy laboratory. While she cannot graduate with a degree, Jane’s ambition to become a recognized paleoanthropologist is high—after all, she has the unwavering support of Professor Archie Porter, a renowned scientist and Jane’s much beloved father. When the dashing American Ral Conrad proposes a paleoanthropological mission to West Africa to prove the theories of Charles Darwin and substantiate the findings of Eugene Dubois, Professor Porter and Jane are thrilled to lead the expedition. But, as their mission progresses, Conrad’s cruel and duplicitous nature becomes clear to father and daughter. Jane must devise a way to stop Conrad before he gets away with his dastardly schemes of murder, betrayal and pillage.

When all seems lost, and Jane left to die an unspeakable death, enter Tarzan: son of the marooned and deceased Lord and Lady Graystoke, raised by Apes in the wilds of western Africa. While Tarzan does save Jane’s life and earns her heart, this time around Jane holds her own as a modern woman that is every bit the heroine to Tarzan’s hero.

First published in 1912, Tarzan of the Apes marked the world’s introduction to Edgar Rice Burroughs’ iconic protagonist. Now, many novelizations and film adaptations later, we are finally given Jane’s side of the story—which, I am thrilled to say, is pretty freakin’ fantastic. Officially authorized by the Burroughs estate, Jane is the first retelling in the Tarzan canon to be penned by a woman, and author Robin Maxwell does a phenomenal job of preserving the wild magic of the original series while updating it with a more capable and empowered heroine.

And, fellow readers, let me tell you: I adored this iteration of Jane Porter.

Headstrong to a fault, Jane is ambitious and educated, but at the same time wholly naive— especially when it comes to what she truly wants. Make no mistake, Jane is a love story as much as it is an adventure. But more than giving life, vibrancy and passion to the relationship between Jane and her Tarzan, this is a tale of a young woman coming of age and embracing her desires and beliefs, inside and out.

Beyond the strength of its eponymous character, the re-imagining of key figures and themes in the Tarzan mythos is expertly handled and respectful of the source material. In particular, the tie between the Mangani (Tarzan’s surrogate family clan of highly evolved apes) and Jane’s search for proof of Darwin’s ape-man missing link, is ingenious. The only downsides to this novel? The device of having Jane narrate the story to Burroughs himself is slightly trite, and overall Jane is perhaps too modern for her time period. The finale of the book (in which a lost civilization is unearthed) is also perhaps a bit over the top.

Yet, in spite of these minor qualms, Jane is a resounding success and a book I loved from beginning to end.

In Book Smugglerish, an enthusiastic, chest-pounding 8 out of 10.

Thea James and Ana Grilo are The Book Smugglers, a website for speculative fiction and YA. 
You can find also find them at Twitter.

AudioPhile Review
JANE The Woman Who Loved Tarzan
Robin Maxwell, Read by Suzan Crowley
• Unabridged • SEPTEMBER 2012 ~ Brilliance Audio 
This stunning sequel to TARZAN is outstanding in its scope and pageantry. Listeners will be transported back a hundred years to the world of Edgar Rice Burroughs as Jane Porter tells her version of this classic. Suzan Crowley is magnificent with her portrayals of the narrator and the protagonist. Her voice develops the Tarzan personality as she teaches him to speak English, and we hear him progress from tentative childish pronunciations to mastering entire sentences and concepts. Her rendering of the invented tongues of the native tribes is so convincing that we feel they could be real languages. For anyone who grew up with the original Tarzan and for all the new legions of fantasy and sci-fi lovers. M.C. © AudioFile 2012, Portland, Maine
Review Quotes:
"Jane is a triumph! A triumph of imagination, adventure, and character. Here we have the true 'missing link' that we've always wanted. . . Jane's side of the story." 
Margaret George, New York Times

"Finally an honest portrayal of the only woman of whom I have been really, really jealous. What a wonderful idea to write this book. Now I am jealous all over again!" 
Jane Goodall PhD, DBE, Founder of the Jane Goodall Institute, UN Messenger of Peace 

"Authentic and compelling, Janewas a book I couldn't put down. Robin Maxwell's talented storytelling ability brought these fabulous characters to life for me. Don't miss this unique and thoroughly enjoyable book!" 
Brenda Novak, New York Times

“With riveting action and suspense, earthy humor, a piquant look at the debate over evolution, and the love between heroic, resourceful, and tender Tarzan and smart, strong, and passionate Jane, this is lush and satisfying entertainment.”
Booklist, starred review

“Excitement, danger, labyrinths, pyramids, treasure, and volcanoes abound, as Jane and Tarzan learn to trust and love each other.”
Library Journal

“Jane Goodall and Isak Dinesen would be right at home with Miss Jane Porter. A respectful, exciting and disarming update of one of the last century's most oft-told tales.”
Kirkus Reviews

"My Dad, John Coleman Burroughs, and my Grandad, Edgar Rice Burroughs, would often discuss Tarzan's relation to Jane. 'Now there is an idea for a good that really brings Jane into focus,' Grandad would say. Robin Maxwell's book does this brilliantly. Not only do Tarzan and Jane transform into a living, breathing couple who bring the Tarzan saga to new life, but the thrills and adventure leap off the page in the grand tradition of Edgar Rice Burroughs himself." 
John R. Burroughs, Grandson of Edgar Rice Burroughs

A Great Story, Told Very Slowly 
By Ana Mardoll TOP 100 REVIEWER

I picked this up because while I haven't read the original "Tarzan of the Apes", I have seen several movie renditions and I feel like the underlying fantasy of Tarzan and Jane is incredibly compelling. (Plus, look at that cover. That cover should win an award, if it hasn't already.) So I was expecting a nice action tale with a fresh-and-feminist narrative viewpoint.

And, well, I got that -- but it took a long time to get there.

My copy of this book weighs in at a reasonable ~300 pages, but this feels like one of the longer books I've read in awhile. The pacing at the beginning is slow enough that several times I was tempted to give up, and it's not until about the halfway point that things really picked up for me. Tarzan himself doesn't even appear until page 130, outside of a few brief tantalizing flashbacks that interrupt the narrative of the "main" flashback.

And I think I'll take this moment to register a quibble. This book starts with Edgar Rice Burroughs, the author of the original Tarzan stories, as a character in the book, and the whole story is told to him by a 'Real Life' Jane. I'm not really a fan of this kind of plot device; no one is going to be fooled into thinking this was the 'real' origin of the Tarzan story, and the whole thing is largely vestigial: an opening and closing chapter that weakly attempt to explain why this version and the original version don't align neatly.

This flimsy explanation was not, in my opinion, necessary -- and raises more questions than answers in my mind. I don't know if the author genuinely thought this attempt at melding the old and the new was a good idea, or if this was insisted upon by Burroughs' estate, but it feels very clunky -- especially when things get hot-and-steamy and the reader is forced to remember that Jane is narrating extremely intimate details of her sex life to a complete stranger so that he can write it all down as a fictional story.

Anyway, returning to the narrative, once Tarzan enters the picture, things pick up -- but it's not a race to the finish by any means. There are long periods of teaching, learning, training, and diary reading, and finally I realized that this isn't an adventure book. It's more of a romance novel slash world building novel set against the lush backdrop of the Tarzan mythos. And once I realized that, I was still able to enjoy the book even though it wasn't quite what I'd expected going in. Tarzan and Jane are larger than life characters, and the prose here is gorgeous, so I enjoyed the book, if not always the pace.

Other things I liked about this novel: I liked the character growth of Jane (once we got out of the first 100 pages which made me uncomfortable with all the repeated comparisons to her 'natural' beauty against the 'artificial' beauty of Every Other Woman in England). I liked how well the fantasy of Tarzan as a person is handled here; he's equal parts vulnerable and powerful, and the fantasy is played to the hilt. I liked that there's a very real and actually pretty decent discussion here about privilege and prejudice, as Jane acknowledges that she has both and works hard to overcome the latter and not be judgmental of other cultures. (She even comes to realize that the Primitive Savage concept is more complicated than that, which I thought was nice in a property that ultimately hinges on that fantasy.) I liked that there are plenty of people of color in this novel, and they are portrayed (in my opinion) with respect and depth of character.

I do recommend this book for climbing into the fantasy of Tarzan and living for a few sweet hours. Twice during my time with this novel, I set it down and popped in one of the two Tarzan movies I own, just to see the visuals and dwell in the experience. If that reinforces my gripe about the slow pacing, it will hopefully also underscore that there's a lot here to be savored. If you can bear a slow pace for an emotionally fulfilling payoff, then I can recommend this book.

A strong, ahead-of-her-time Jane -- and fun to boot!
By Pamela Berkman (San Anselmo, CA United States) 5.0 out of 5 stars
Love this book. It begins in the old Chicago Public Library, with Jane trying to give a lecture to a crowd heckling her because she's a woman. She chats with Edgar Rice Burroughs, such a fun way to frame it. And she's off on her African adventure... she's REALLY strong, not just some romance heroine seeing everything in terms of Tarzan. And the author's use of the language really evokes the Edwardian period. A fun fall read, and a real pleasure.

Take me back!
By Take A. Stand (Pasadena, Ca United States) 5.0 out of 5 stars 
The Tarzan series was the hit of my childhood and adolescence. I watched all the movies, I read almost all the books that Edgar Rice Burroughs wrote. I bought this book in both hardcover and for Kindle. I enjoyed reading it immensely and I hope it is just the first of many. More please!
Romance in the Jungle

By Sharilyn 4.0 out of 5 stars
This review is from: Jane: The Woman Who Loved Tarzan (Paperback)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine™ Program (What's this?)
In October 1912, All Story magazine published "Tarzan of the Apes" by Edgar Rice Burroughs. Now, a century later, Robin Maxwell retells the classic tale from Jane's perspective.

While I've not read the original story, I'm pretty sure Maxwell has tweaked it. For one thing, her heroine is no shirking violet. Instead, 20-year-old Jane Porter is a "new woman": studying at Cambridge, spurning socially-acceptable suitors, rejecting Christianity and sharing her father's passion to discover Darwin's Missing Link. This book is subtitled "The Woman Who Loved Tarzan" and, not surprisingly, romance is front and centre. Thankfully, there's some action to balance out the mushy stuff.

The first hundred pages drag a bit. For all Maxwell has modernised the character, the truth is that Jane on her own just isn't all that compelling. But once Tarzan swung into the picture the pace - and my interest level - picked up.There is an undeniable adventure yarn quality to the plot. The villains, in particular, are delightfully dastardly. The story's frenzied climax could have come straight out of King Solomon's Mines. It's over the top, perhaps even silly, but it's wonderfully fun. While it might not appeal to Tarzan purists, I found Jane an enjoyable read.

Charming rendition of the Tarzan story
By Crystal Jones "dorolerium reviews" (Denver, CO USA) 4.0 out of 5 stars
As I started reading this book, I realized I hadn't ever read anything about Tarzan and Jane before. In fact, aside from seeing the Disney movie like a decade ago, my exposure to their story is pretty limited. I actually consider that a good thing, because I really had no preconceived notions about the tale ahead of time. Although Tarzan is a bit of a romantic figure, I didn't picture him in that way, and I think I was able to fall in love with him a bit alongside Jane.
. . . 
I was already a fan of Robin Maxwell, so I jumped at the chance to read this one right as it was coming out. She doesn't disappoint with this novel, and I found it to be as entertaining as her other historical fiction. As a reader, we know there's more to this story than what we see in this book, so I think it leaves room for a potential sequel down the road, which would be equally thrilling!
Action, adventure, imagination, intelligence all in one!

By Floridabooklover - 5.0 out of 5 stars
I see why the Edgar Rice Burroughs Foundation chose Robin Maxwell to continue the Tarzan saga and mark the 100th anniversary of the Tarzan series. Maxwell has provided a heroine in true partnership with Tarzan. The entire Mangani tribe is riveting from the loving Kala to the evil Kerchak, and the story of Tarzan's parents and Jane's family reveal an England that, once again, Maxwell so deftly and accurately portrays. This book is intelligent and full of action, adventure, beauty and imagination. I couldn't put it down.
Jane of the Jungle

By L. M Young (Marietta, GA USA) - 5.0 out of 5 stars
Jane Porter, uncensored! When a struggling pulp-novel writer meets an outspoken woman at an archaelogical presentation, he doesn't realize this will lead him to a tale so fantastic he can't even tell it in its original form. But even his own version is so mesmerizing it becomes immortal.

This is the story of Tarzan from Jane's point of view, and the struggling writer she tells the tale to is, of course, Edgar Rice Burroughs. Burroughs presumably retrofit the true story for his audience, as Maxwell's Jane is a far cry from Burroughs' prim lass who accompanies her father on a treasure-hunting expedition. Maxwell's Jane is an independent woman who studies medicine with the approval of her indulgent father, rides astride, and defies her tradition-bound mother, until the tall tales of a brash American explorer send them to "deepest darkest Africa." And there the alluring, charming American begins to change...or was he like that all along?

Okay, I enjoyed the heck out of this, but then I'm not a Tarzan devotee except for having seen some of the Weissmuller films and the 1960s television series. Those who are Burroughs series purists may not appreciate Maxwell's minor changes to Tarzan's life story, or her placement of Jane in the forefront, but it was enjoyable for me to see the Edwardian-idealized Jane as a strong character. The portrayal of early 20th-century Africa under the thumb of colonialism and the jungle scenes are quite vivid, and her Tarzan seemed much more approachable, especially as Jane learns his fantastic story. Authorized by the Burroughs estate. 

Historical fiction reviews of 
Robin Maxwell's 
Jane: the Woman who Loved Tarzan
A Tom Doherty Associates Book, 320 pages, $16.99
Toronto Star ~ January 18, 2013 ~ By Linda Diebel National Affairs Writer

Robin Maxwell’s Jane: The Woman Who Loved Tarzan starts with a clever idea: what if the exotic Jane of the jungle actually existed? What if she met struggling pulp fiction writer Edgar Rice Burroughs in Chicago in 1912 and changed his life?

“Good Lord, she was magnificent,” the fictional Burroughs writes in a prologue to her story. She tells him just enough to write Tarzan of the Apes, leaving his supercharged imagination working on another 24 novels. It’s a tale within a tale and a book within a book, dedicated to Tarzan’s creator Edgar Rice Burroughs and authorized by his grandson, John R. Burroughs.

It’s pure swashbuckling adventure, with Jane as strong and central to the story as Tarzan. He becomes her partner in a story that takes us over the top in romance, sex and adventure. Although the sex is on the shy side of Edwardian, Maxwell’s Tarzan stalks the pages with the intensity of a romantic hero like Daniel Day Lewis in The Last of the Mohicans. (What woman doesn’t remember his character’s “Just Stay Alive!” speech before he plunges over a towering waterfall.)

Jane Porter is a medical student and budding paleontologist at Oxford in 1905 (where she monitors classes but can’t graduate) when she joins an expedition to West Africa with her father and assorted adventurers. Passionate about Charles Darwin, she’s in search of evolution’s missing link.

Scoundrels abound and misadventure ensues. Jane finds herself in the jaws of a leopard, passes out and wakes up in the nest of a tree looking at the “naked, heavily muscled back of a man.” She calls him the “most beautiful man I have ever seen,” and so begins her life with Tarzan.

Veteran historical fiction author Maxwell, author of the Secret Diary ofAnne Boleyn, introduces readers to a magical world. Jane meets the Mangani species, apelike but upright, and speaking a language they’ve taught the orphaned Tarzan. Here was evolution’s missing link and Jane brings out her anatomical books to record everything before . . . well, no spoilers.


Robin Maxwell @ Book Soup Bookstore on Sunset Blvd. in Hollywood

 How Robin Maxwell's 
Jane, the woman who loved Tarzan, was conceived
Reprinted from the ERB, Inc. Site
Review by Margaret Leubs for the Newsletter Purple Sage 
of the Eash Sierra Branch, California Writers Club

Robin Maxwell introduced herself to the Ridge Writers by explaining that she too was a desert denizen, as she and her husband run a bed and breakfast near Yucca Valley.

She then told us how she came to be interested in both Tarzan and Jane. Tarzan was her first heartthrob, a gorgeously muscled he-man, living free. The romantic in her loved that he loved an American girl.

She also enjoyed other comics, such as Superman, but no super-hero could hold a candle to Tarzan. She never actually read Edgar Rice Burroughs’ novels, but she did love the movies based on them.

Life went on, and she forgot all about Tarzan for decades – until the movie “Greystoke” came out. The second half of the movie left her cold, because in that movie Jane never gets to the jungle. But the first half reminded Maxwell of her early love for the character of Tarzan.

Maxwell has been writing historical novels for over 15 years. Three years ago, after finishing O Juliet, she began to wonder what her next book would be about. Maybe more literary lovers? That made her think of Tarzan and Jane, though her husband was dubious.

She had two friends who were already working with the Edgar Rice Burroughs estate for another project, and from them she learned that Burroughs had written a total of 24 Tarzan novels and that the estate would expect her to treat him well. So she read the first novel and was blown away by Burroughs’ storytelling ability.

When she spoke to the president of Edgar Rice Burroughs, Inc., Jim Sullos, he told her that the estate hadn’t authorized a new Tarzan novel in 30 years. Then she told him her idea – Tarzan from Jane’s point of view – and three seconds later he said he loved the idea. He also told her that 2012 was the 100th anniversary of the first published novel, so her timing was good.

Then she had to come up with a detailed outline for Jim to pitch to the board of directors. This required a great deal of research, as is typical for Maxwell when she writes historical fiction. The right books always seem to fall into her lap, she said.

She read about the rape of Africa, chimpanzees and gorillas, feral children, the “missing link” in human evolution, and Edwardian women. Google Earth was a favorite tool, and YouTube turns out to be very good for seeing places that you can’t manage to visit in person.

Then she watched the films. She couldn’t get the early silent Tarzans, but did watch the Weissmuller films. The first two are very sensual, and the second, made in 1934, contains a nude swimming scene that caused the Hayes Code to be strengthened.

The more Maxwell read, the more the story came into focus. She knew that the story had to be fresh and relevant. Sensibilities have changed since Edgar Rice Burroughs wrote the original books. Seventy percent of readers today are women (though in fact, Jane has slightly moreRobin Maxwell shows Ridge Writers the cover of Edgar Rice Burroughs’ original Tarzan book. Photo by Lizmale than female readers). Maxwell was determined that her Jane would be forward thinking and well-educated. She also wanted a kindler, gentler Tarzan, not as quick to kill animals or taunt local tribesmen. Through trauma he had forgotten who he was and would find himself through the love of a woman.

Maxwell wanted every part of her story to be grounded in reality, unlike the original story, which was more of a fantasy. Her Jane was a tomboy, the only child of a professor and amateur paleoanthropologist. Maxwell’s story differs from the original in several other ways as well.

First, Maxwell’s Jane and her father are not part of a treasure-hunting expedition, but rather are searching for “missing link” fossils. Instead, they find a “missing link” tribe – the Mangani who brought Tarzan up.

Second, Maxwell’s Tarzan was taken from his parents at age four, not one, so that he was able to speak and even read and write a little, which made his later ability to learn language more probable. The Burroughs estate did not likethat change, but she insisted on it.

Our speaker, Robin Maxwell, poses with the announcement of her talk that our hosts at Ridgecrest Presbyterian Church graciously put on the church’s streetside sign. Thank you, Ridgecrest Presbyterian!

Third, the original Jane is accompanied by a black maid (a “Mammy” type character) and is always civilized. But Maxwell wanted her Jane to have a character arc and wanted her to be alone with Tarzan for long periods of time.

Fourth, Tarzan and Jane have a love affair, in the fullest sense of the term. This was a major violation of the Burroughs estate rules, but Maxwell managed to get their rule changed in her contract, agreeing only that the sex would be tasteful.

Maxwell pitched her story to Jim Sullos for five solid hours, after which he had to convince the board of directors. She waited a month, during which time she did no work on the book. Finally she got the go-ahead.

Her next job was to do the detailed plotting, including how to get Tarzan and Jane to “meet cute.” The estate began sending her images of Tarzan and Jane, and she was put in touch with a Tarzan illustrator, Thomas Yates, who sent her many of his illustrations.

Her agent found her a home with Tor Books (a division of Macmillan), and there was a bidding war for the audio book. In March of last year, Maxwell spoke at a major Tarzan and comics convention. She met Jane Goodall, who had always been a Tarzan fan. Goodall read Jane, loved it, and agreed to endorse it, which was a major coup.

Maxwell noted that authors are often warned not to fall in love with their characters, but she thinks that’s hogwash. She said she is profoundly grateful for Edgar Rice Burroughs’ magnificent creation. As a finale to her program, she showed a montage of pictures of Tarzan and Jane through the years, set to music.

Afterwards she took a few questions. One person asked whether she is writing a script of her novel, since she was originally a screenwriter.

Unfortunately, Warner Brothers has a Tarzan project that has been in production for six years, possibly a series. So Maxwell has to be patient. She submitted a treatment of her book to Warner Bros., and asked them not to “step on Jane’s toes” in their movie.

Maybe her book could be a prequel. Or maybe a TV series. I certainly hope to see Robin Maxwell’s vision of Jane on the screen sometime soon.



Tarzan And I Swing By Comic-Con
Part II: The Naked Truth About Tarzan and Jane
Meet the Author: Robin Maxwell
JANE: The Woman Who Loved Tarzan ~ Book Excerpts
Tarzan Never Dies, Part I: 100 Years of Books and Movies
Tarzan Never Dies, Part II: Will There Ever Be A Great Tarzan Movie?
Jane: Queen of the Jungle
Edgar Rice Burroughs and Darwin Revisited: The Science of Jane
JANE: Reviews ~ Photos ~ Video
2013 Reader Reviews

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